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Nia by Hana Efendic
My name is Hana. I am sixteen years old and I live in Dublin, Ireland. I am the current Head Girl in sixth year at St. Mac Dara's Community College and I have recently finished writing a novel of fiction called Nia. My family is originally from Bosnia and, moved to Ireland during the troubles that were taking place there in the 90s. I was born in Dublin and I see myself as the voice of the new Ireland. I am passionate about writing and I have won numerous school competitions for my work. In 2015 I won an award from the South Dublin County Council for a song that I wrote against racism.
My novel, Nia gives a peak into the life of a fourteen-year-old girl called Nia who is growing up in a middle class Dublin suburb during the recent recession. It is a unique novel of its time that explores the themes of family, struggle, hardship and friendship.
This book has previously been reviewed by a successful Irish writer/playwright called Jack Harte and several English teachers who have praised my writing skills and found it to be a captivating novel.
Jane Preston was my mother. She was thirty-two with auburn hair but most days, she looked like she had lived in a cave for ten years. At some point in secondary school, she dropped out, no one knows why or how that came about but it happened and I’d say that she was solely to blame.
When I came home, I threw my bag onto the floor and went to my room to avoid her. She preferred Stephanie and Stephanie probably preferred Karl. He was followed everywhere though, by women so I guess you could say that he was to blame.
Jane ran down the stairs. She was going to 'Joeys', her all-time favourite place in the world. But she never got dressed up for it. Except for a slab of some red lipstick on her lips and shoes that were always chosen at random.
Stephanie and her had the same nature. Sometimes they were almost inseparable. When we were all in the same room, they would just become the same person. They always took each other sides and they pretty much thought the same thing. However, Stephanie was strong, stronger than her, especially through the bickering. She was either out with her friends or distracted by something in her room when it went on. It was the pain that was to stay inside her because she never expressed it but it gradually made her more and more bitter towards everything. Some of their words I didn't even know existed. Their actions were only shown in the most gruesome of films. And all I ever wanted them to do was stop.
But I guess that's what you get for marrying someone you never really loved or being with a person because of their money and wealth.
So it ended, Karl left, things changed, people started to act desperately. And a thirty-two-year-old became unrecognisable. At one point, we were a family and the next, just like that, we weren't. People who aren't meant to be, shouldn't stay together. Or they never should have been together in the first place.
Karl had everything he wanted, all the attributes with deep dark blue eyes and permanently gelled- back hair. He attracted everyone and knew how to approach the right ladies, which was what frustrated Jane. But he was also smart too! He was a business man who was in love with cars and everything to do with them which was what kept him busy most nights. Sometimes he didn't come home for days.
But the problem was, Jane wasn't close to him from the start. Their marriage happened because of us really, six years after she gave birth to Stephanie and three years before me.
I had just come home from school. Jane was gone and I was sitting on my bed when the doorbell rang. It was Stephanie.
She stood with her arm on the wall, rolling her eyes like I'd done something so embarrassing by opening the front door.
'How long do ye take to open the door?' Seriously?, I thought.
'Not that long!', I replied, giving her some space to walk into the hall.
She went straight up to her room and that was all I heard from her for the rest of the night. But I guess, I didn't really need to hear from her because there were others who had made themselves heard, quite distinctly at 2am.
At first, I thought there were some robbers trying to get into the house because why would someone want to argue at that hour? Especially in the dark, at the top of a hall. So, I had to see what it was all about. I got out of bed after my first attempt, walked out of my room, stepped onto the wooden floor and immediately regretted leaving my slippers by my bed.
The floor creaked, and scared me a lot more than what was happening downstairs which had gotten louder as I had left my bed.
When I finally opened my eyes, after rubbing them for a long time, I saw what was going on. It was just Karl and Jane, them again, who felt the need to disturb everyone.
They didn't notice me and continued on arguing probably because I couldn't even see my own hand! It was that dark. But I had a feeling that Karl was facing her due to the noise level of his voice.
And then, like I had wanted it, a horrid smell came up the stairs and I couldn't work out what it was.
'Uh get away from me', she bellowed.
Her voice was so unclear and strange as if there was something caught in her throat which explained, why she, subsequently got sick.
'You're disgusting.', he said. 'Look what you're after doing. How the hell can you live with yourself when you act like this? You can't control one thing that you do!'
'Uh g'way', she replied. 'You're not any better! Just bog off--- and leave me alone.'
'Bog' wasn't the exact word that she used but it made Karl walk away anyway. I think he went to the kitchen while he left Jane by door, who was muttering something under her breath.
As I stood up, to go back to bed, I heard a thump and I looked down the stairs again which wasn't much help. But it was definitely Jane and she had managed to fall over, just Lord knows where.
I went back to my room, feeling the exact same way I had felt when I left it.
In the morning, I woke curled up in my bed, my eyes firmly shut together and they simply refused to open up! I was wrecked and I could see that by the time it took my eyes to adjust to the light.
When I was finished fussing over how many hours of sleep I got and the fact that it was Monday, I trailed behind Stephanie to the bathroom only to get the door slammed in my face. I nestled my head against the banister, nearly falling asleep again. After what appeared to be a decade, Stephanie unlocked the toilet. I brushed my teeth and I returned to my room to get dressed in my St. Claire's uniform. The uniform wasn't the worst, it was better than having to find an outfit to wear every day. But the skirt was the thing I disliked the most. It was down to my ankles and looked like someone had put some random patterns on it.
I headed downstairs and saw that Jane was gone and I only hoped that she was in her bed. From the door, I heard Karl humming in the kitchen which was probably where he had stayed the whole night. He was scanning the fridge which made it extra difficult for me to get the milk and eat my cereal in peace.
As I came in, he felt my presence but he thought that it would've been better to ignore me.
The milk splashed onto the wheats and the cereal seemed to make the loudest noise ever as my teeth bit into it. Every single mouthful I took was agony for the both of us. What saved us, was Stephanie's entrance into the room. Straight away, when she walked in, she gave Karl an immense hug which was, odd for her on a Monday morning.
'How can yous live with barely any food?', he asked, shaking his head. 'That fridge is empty!', he said, turning around to me. He didn't say that to Stephanie! But to me because he thought it was fine even though I was the younger one!
'It's not my responsibility.', I said, which was true! Jane was supposed to be buying the food.
But as I was looking at Karl and thinking of what could be going through his mind, Stephanie got my attention. She had the biggest grin on her face and was right behind him!
I left the kitchen in haste, tucked my feet into my school shoes and swung my bag on my back. I was just about to leave for school when suddenly, Karl came running out of the kitchen.
'What are you doing?'
He put his hand on the door and closed it. 'Where do you think you're going?'
'What? I'm going to school!' Where did he think that I was going? On a holiday!
'Oh no, you're not.', he said, taking his hands out of his pockets and tightening his fists.
'Why?', I asked, moving back.
'Cause I want to drop you to school.'
'Drop me? No it's fine', I said, reaching for the door again but he stopped me.
'It's only up the road!'
'That is why I will bring Stephanie and you.'
And then, I got my answer for it all. He was doing it for my sister. She had probably asked him when she had given him that hug.
'I'd say all your friends will be mad jealous!'
Oh yeah, Miranda, I thought.
'What friends?', Stephanie interrupted, while she made her way to the car. It seemed like I would have to go too even though we were half an hour too early.
'I'm going to be early Karl. Can we just leave a little later?', I asked him. He was tying his shoes.
'Uh no one's asking you what you want. Just be a bit more like Stephanie and sit in the car, okay?'
So that was that, I had to obey his orders. But I really didn't like being forced into things and, people who wouldn't change their mind for the world.
The ride in his Jeep was slightly awkward. Stephanie applied some mascara and rubbed her foundation into her cheeks. Karl was concentrating on his driving. And I was sitting in the back, wondering if he would ever turn on the radio.
We arrived at St. Claire's within five minutes. I didn't see anyone that I knew, waiting for school to open up but Stephanie didn't mind. She was the first to get out, blowing Karl a kiss as she did so. I left the car after her and said, 'bye' to which he didn't reply to. Sophie was the only one who I could see was waiting at the gate. She was there for Miranda who I knew was to join her in any second. They were always together, for support because they thought that they were the best and they didn't take criticism off anyone, including Mr. Bateman.
They usually gave dirty looks to everyone and their school life consisted of rude comments about every second girl. It didn't take long for Miranda to come strolling through the gates and as she did, she couldn't help giving me one of her famous looks from the corner of her eye. She joined Sophie and they both drifted off to another group of boys.
I went on a little walk around the school and when I returned, after a few minutes, she started to approach me. I didn't know if she was really coming to me but the direction that she was going in was promising.
What do you want now?, I asked myself as I watched her. She definitely had to be coming to me.
'Was that your da' in the car?', she asked like there weren’t tons of cars with many fathers and men.
'Here will you bloody answer me', she said, stepping closer in front of me. Could she not wait one second for a reply?
'What car?', I replied.
'Don't ye know what car your dad drives?', Sophie butted in like a 'hero'. They started laughing at the top of their voices.
'Of course I know. He's my dad!'
‘Well yeah, he's not a notch on you!'
'What do you mean?'
'He's such a ride', they said in unison, grabbing each other like they were the best comedians in the world. My dad a ride? Oh no way! 'I could get stuck in with him! He'd like me! Wouldn't he Soph?'
'Unless I got there first!'
'Oh my God stop! Yous are disgusting!'
'What's the problem? I wouldn't say your ma' would mind much. She's probably a fag like you!'
'You're a fricking fag!', I said. 'Now go away!'
I walked as quickly as I could away from them. How could they have talked about Karl in front of me like that? They wouldn't have been pleased at all if I brought up their dads!
When I was finally in school, I realised how well I had responded to their comments. Getting away from them was the best thing that I could have done! But they were strange though, to think like that because I would never, no matter what the case was, say that to someone's face.
Monday was a bad day for subjects and to top it off, Ms. Kenny (my tutor) was in a horrid mood too. Her favourite thing was to shout at us because of her own life problems and then she'd expect us to be the most academic students in the school.
I looked around my class and ninety-nine percent of the people had a concerned look on their face.
Ugh, I thought. It's gonna be a long day.
The one percent was Ed. He smiled when I glanced at him so I couldn't really add him in too!
Lunch came quicker than expected. It was a nice afternoon and I simply couldn't wait to go outside. I stood at the wall where I had spent two years of my school life at and all I could say was, it's mad how isolated you can feel with hundreds of people around you.
At four o' clock, school was finished and I gladly picked up my bag and sprinted out the door.
There was this one girl who I saw, sitting on the kerb, scanning all the cars, with the hope that she'd spot her mother's car somewhere, while the people in her class recognised and passed her, minding their own business.
By some time, the teachers would leave and she would still be there, waiting. I was that girl, a long time ago, waiting for Jane to show up.
I strolled home and thought about the families that lived in Blackwater Estate. They didn't like us; I didn't know if we liked them but we rarely made small talk. Not even a 'hello!' I bet it was because they could hear us from a million miles away, or Jane to be precise, Karl and Jane, just like last night. And another thing was the house, our house, not the people in it but just the way it was, the way it looked. Compared to all our neighbours, our garden was chaotic and if there was ever a scary movie filmed in Blackwater, it would’ve been centred around our house.
I didn’t like the thought of my house being the eeriest in the street or the most disliked, but what could I have done? I didn’t know how to cut my split ends nevertheless the grass and it wasn’t entirely my fault that it was like that. I tried making them act more humane in the past but they never took any heed to that.
I took a seat on the couch in the living room after a good half an hour walk and all I could think about was the smell of cigarettes coming off the pillows! I threw them to the side, thinking that it would fix the problem but surprisingly, it didn't so I decided to go to the kitchen to find some spray, something that would take the horrible pong out of the room!
While I was leaving the kitchen, I noticed a car driving into the parking spot in the front. So I peeped through the long window at the door to see who it was. And the first thing that I saw was a black Jeep, Karl's. It seemed like he wasn't alone too. The other car door was opening up and I guessed that it was Stephanie. Maybe they had made a deal that he'd collect her?
But the leg that came out did not look like Stephanie's. The school sock was gone. It was a pretty bare leg and as I tilted my head to the side, I also saw that there wasn't a black shoe on the foot! No! It was a massive high heel.
At first, I didn't know what to think. It could have been Jane! But I truthfully thought that it couldn't be, especially with the dispute they had.
And then I knew and I never thought that he would.
Out came a girl, tall, thin and tanned. She walked straight to the door, her hips swaying and her skirt tight.
Oh no, I thought. Not her.
I was almost certain that he was in contact with another woman but I didn't expect that. I didn't think that he would've stooped so low and brought her to the house. I mean, how did he want me to feel?
I darted to the kitchen just before he unlocked the door and let himself and that girl in.
He was unbelievable, he was absolutely nuts! He was my father and he didn't even care.
'Is this your house?', she asked. Her voice sounded so immature, so babyish but she was slightly stern when she asked him.
'Yeah baby, it is.', he said, laughing.
I, personally didn't know what it was. Either the smell that had stuck with me from the couch, the amount of makeup she had on her face or the fact that he had just called this girl, 'baby', that made my stomach turn upside down and inside out.
Baby? That person was far from it. He was married! with a family! He was my dad!
'Ours is gonna be amazing compared to this crap', she giggled which made me freeze.
'We'll see babe', he said. 'I'm gonna go for a quick shower now! I'll only be a few minutes so stay there! Okay Alexa?'
'Yeah, fine', she said, not that impressed. But who cares! She wasn't in her own home! And he never should have even thought about bringing her here, nevertheless, actually letting her stand in the hallway!
I opened the door, and peered through the gap to see her once again. She was turning around, inspecting the house and by her expression, you could gather that she wasn't joyous with what she could see. She was young, too young for Karl which was evident through her clothes.
She was wearing an orange crop top to show off her pierced belly button and denim shorts. She looked like someone out of my school that had gotten dressed up for a disco. But this wasn't any disco, this was life, it was early spring and she was in my house.
I decided, actually I didn't decide, I just went to her. I walked straight over to where she was standing which really wasn't one of my best ideas, even with a bottle of disinfectant in my hand.
We made eye contact. I instantly regretted leaving the kitchen. And she screeched, 'Karl! Karl!'
'Who the hell are you?'’, she asked, like she had already taken over my house!
You really know how to choose the right women Karl, don't ye?
'I'm Nia.', I replied hesitantly. 'And you are?'
She seemed taken aback. From one question!
'It's none of your business actually! I'm here with Karl. Is he running some kids center or something here because I think that you should go back to the kitchen?'
She smirked, while I thought of one hundred things on the spot that I could say right back to her.
'No, he's not. He's actually running a family here! Two kids and a wife.'
She sighed and smoothed out her hair.
'I shouldn’t be telling you squat what I'm doing with Karl. The question is, what is he doing with me? Because I really don't give a crap about you or whoever else lives here.'
I followed her eyes up to the stairs. She needed Karl by her side.
I think she knew that I could read her, so she caught hold of one piece of hair on my head and told me how boring it was. I laughed in her face and told her to get out of my house.
She was furious of course but it was Karl who had just come on time.
He hopped down the steps until he realised that his daughter was right beside his new girlfriend and then he paused, stopped and pulled the fakest broadest beam that I had ever seen in my life.
'Oh hello Nia!', he said, as sweet as tweety bird.
He held his arms out for a hug while I stared at him, barely recognising the man who was in front of me. He pulled the girl closer to him and put his arm around her shoulders.
She was way too young to know she was simply intrigued by Karl's looks. There was no love between them.
'Let me introduce yous.', he said.
Oh yes!, I thought. The perfect idea.
'I know her well already', she interrupted. 'Your daughter is lovely!'
I didn't like liars, not one bit and they were two right there, a metre ahead of me.